By Jennifer Magnuson of Get In the Car!
I’ve always wondered why the color blue is associated with such conflicting ideas. On the one hand, you have melancholy, sadness, even death. On the other, serenity, calm, peacefulness and baby boys. I’m not sure if there is another color out there that is so bifurcated.
Maybe that’s why I love it so much. As a mom, I write about the facets of motherhood that are often at variance with one another. Blue seems the perfect tangible expression of my emotions as a mom, and the color with which I hold the most positive associations.
My first recollection of actually linking the color blue with a feeling of sublime tranquility dates back to kindergarten. My great-aunt had a basket of polished rocks in a basket on a lacquered table near the entrance of her kitchen. Her house was stately, and to enter the kitchen, one had to go down a set of stairs into a separate part of the home altogether. Her home was set in a large wooded area of town, with gardens that were somewhere between manicured and gone to seed. Her backyard held an enormous structured pond with ducks and lilies; the rectangular pond was walled in cement and could have easily been a pool. My aunt was eccentric and noisy, and let me have ginger ale in champagne flutes at her parties. She wore loud prints and blousy cuts and had a big gap between her teeth that was always visible, since she was usually laughing, smoking or drinking. She also had those rocks. My favorite, probably not even a rock, was a hulking chunk of aquamarine; mostly clear with white bits seemingly holding it together. In retrospect, the rock was probably aged glass, held together with chunks of white cement. It didn’t matter. I thought that rock was the most beautiful thing, and when my aunt gave it to me, it quickly became my prized possession. I would gaze at it for long periods of time, lost in its color, the smooth glassy feel giving me a sense of well-being I couldn’t explain. Blue became the color I equated with peace.
In my early grade school years, I swam in our town’s large, Olympic-sized indoor pool. I remember the sunny winter days with the shafts of light streaming down from the skylights creating an underwater paradise for me and my imagination. The blue of the pool and the golden, flecked sunbeams underwater gave me such a feeling of bliss that I developed swimmer’s ear more than once as a child. I would dive under water, open my eyes, and take in the crystal blue silence, my body’s weightlessness, and the ease with which I was able to move. It felt like a blue, sky-filled heaven where I could move without care.
As an adult, my magic blue moments have been fewer, and I savor them when they come. Lying in a hammock slung between two palm trees with a good book, a slight breeze, and the sound of the ocean pounding the surf? Blue. Holding my babies for the first time, kissing their soft skin and taking in their smell? Blue. The smell of ponderosa and sage after a rainstorm? Blue. Hearing the belly laugh of a content baby? Blue.
My only wish, as far as my blue moments go, is that I still had that rock.
Jennifer Magnuson is a writer and a mother of four. She writes for the Viacom/Nickelodeon site, Parents Connect, and for other sites on the web as well as a freelance job for print magazines now and then. She spends too much of her time in her car, hence the name of her blog, Get In the Car!